Modeling and Simulating the Impact of Human Spatial and Social Behavior on Infection Spread in Hospitals

Dario Esposito, Davide Schaumann, Megan Rondinelli, Yehuda E. Kalay, Kevin M. Curtin, Penelope Mitchell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The World Health Organization recognizes the spread of infections in healthcare environments as a worldwide threat. Each year, hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) cause thousands of deaths, cost billions of dollars, and propagate antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains in communities. This research investigates the impact of human collective social and spatial behavior on infection spread in healthcare environments. A multi-agent system is presented, which represents how spatial cognition of the built environment and agents’ perception of others sharing a common space influences human decision-making and spatial behavior in the context of hospital wards. Event-based modeling is used to integrate spaces, actors, and activities into computational entities that direct agents’ spatial behavior within a virtual simulation, in order to visualize the flux of contamination on actors and spaces. This system demonstrates the correlation between the transmission of disease risk and the profiles and spatial choices of agents, their collective activities, the characteristics of pathogens, and the role of inanimate objects and spaces as vectors of disease. Visualizing the chain of infection makes it possible to suggest feasible interventions and can help to foresee the impacts of intervention policies, and the influence of environmental organization and spatial design.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCollective Spatial Cognition
Subtitle of host publicationA Research Agenda
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9781000967463
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Social Sciences


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